In today’s say-it-all society it’s all been said. Regarding the f-word, the c-word, the b-word, the mf-word, the ho-word . . . the relish is gone. Once it felt good to just let your language hang out naked and raw from time to time. It meant something. The perfect profanity at the perfect moment is like a flame darting off your tongue. It sears.
Inane profanity 24/7 is just a bad sunburn that won’t quit.
Now when someone utters f**k or sh*t, it generally signifies a brain refusing to do its work, a brain in sleep mode. The brain is a calibrated instrument for discernment, and for communicating that discernment. A brain that refuses to choose phrases that elicit meaning and instead spews forth terminology that is knee-jerk meaningless is an insult to other human brains.
I’m here to encourage you to learn to curse like a sailor — in another language. Preferrably one not spoken often here.
Spanish won’t do. In the southern U.S. everyone speaks it, or at least knows how to fling a zesty frase or two around. But German, oh! Bull Sheize! Hölle! Crappen! It sounds vaguely naughty, but cryptically so. (Translation accuracy not implied or guaranteed.)
So what’s the merit in foreign language expletives?
The freedom! The expression! The ability to say it — obliquely. The side benefit is if your kid picks it up, what the hey, he’ll only seem uncouth in Germany. Or Nigeria. Or Basque country, or wherever you string your curses from.
Don’t relegate your brain to that dead zone where you communicate nothing through an artillery barrage of the trite. Sure it’s a return to civility — and many of us would rather be thought a rogue than refined — but it’s also a sharpening of your mind, the only tool you have for navigating this world.
My take: Use that brain! Be specific — actually convey a nuanced meaning — or go foreign. Make us try to puzzle it out.
A final note: As in everything I write, my admonitions are for myself. It may seem as if I’m writing to you. I am. But I also use you as in one, one’s brain, one’s language — a way to generalize. Really a way to say me.
Or more on pitch: Evan, stop effing around and start speaking on a higher plane or you’ll be the ruination of your eight-year old! And your brain.